March 30, 2006. Baikonur Cosmodrome.
The integrated launch vehicle Soyuz-FG carrying Soyuz
TMA-8 was launched at 06:30:20 Moscow summer time from
For reference: The launch of Soyuz TMA-8 spacecraft is
the 12th launch covered by the Russian obligations under
the ISS program and the 118th launch from the beginning of
operation of the Soyuz spacecraft (1966), developed and being
manufactured by RSC Energia in cooperation with space enterprises.
The Russian transport manned spacecraft carries on board Expedition Thirteen
(ISS-13) crew and the Tenth Visiting Crew (VC-10).
The Soyuz TMA-8 crew consists of Russian test cosmonaut Pavel Vladimirovich Vinogradov
(spacecraft commander, ISS-13 commander, S.P.Korolev RSC Energia, Hero of the
Russian Federation), U.S. astronaut Jeffry Nels Williams (spacecraft flight engineer
1, ISS-13 flight engineer, United States Air Force colonel), and first Brazilian
astronaut Marcos Cesar Pontes (spacecraft flight engineer 2, spaceflight participant,
Brazilian Space Agency astronaut, Brazil Air Force lieutenant colonel).
The launch is primarily aimed at rotation of the Expedition Twelve (ISS-12) crew
and scheduled changeover of Soyuz TMA-7 spacecraft, which had been operating
within the orbital station as a crew rescue vehicle since October 3, 2005.
The ISS-13 crew is assigned with a task to support functionality of the ISS Orbital
Complex throughout 178 days (since March 30 through September 24, 2006), implement
the program of science and application research under the Expedition 13 and Visiting
Crew 10 programs and commercial contracts, conduct extravehicular activities
with a space walk to the external station surface. The station crew will have
to perform operations with Soyuz TMA-8, Soyuz TMA-7, Soyuz TMA-9, Progress M-56
and Progress M-57, support docking operations for U.S. Space Shuttle after their
return to flights to the station. Marcos Pontes will work in orbit under the
VC-10 program for ten days and return to ground with Soyuz TMA-7 together with
the ISS-12 crew.
The spacecraft is inserted into a near-earth orbit with parameters: the inclination
of 51.66°, minimum altitude of 201.6 km, maximum altitude of 259.1 km, period
of 88.8 min. The spacecraft onboard systems are operating normally.
At insertion the ground control loop supported a permanent earth-to-crew voice
communication, downlink of color TV information, as well as command and telemetry
The ISS-12 crew consisting of Russian cosmonaut Valery Tokarev (flight engineer),
and NASA astronaut William McArthur (commander) performed required operations
to prepare the orbital complex for docking.
The spacecraft docking is scheduled for April 1, 2006. The estimated time of
a contact with the ISS Functional Cargo Block Zarya will take place at approximately
The decision about the launch of the Soyuz-FG/Soyuz TMA-8 was made by the State
Board (co-chairmen of the State Board are N.F. Moiseev, Deputy Director of Roskosmos,
and V.A. Grin, Deputy General Director of TsNII of Machine-Building) based on
the Technical Management statement on the readiness of the complex and ground
infrastructure components involved in the ISS program implementation.
The technical management for preparation of the complex and ground infrastructure
components was chaired by N.N. Sevastyanov, RSC Energia President, General Designer
for Manned Space Complexes and Technical Manager for Flight Tests.
The manned spacecraft processing and launch were conducted under technical management
of N.I. Zelenschikov, First Vice-President, First Deputy General Designer of
During the final spacecraft prelaunch operations, launch and insertion into a
near-earth orbit the Baikonur launch site was attended by A.N. Perminov, Director
of the Federal Space Agency (Roskosmos), N.F. Moiseev and V.A. Grin, co-chairmen
of the State Board, V.V.Tsibliev, Director of Yu.A. Gagarin CTC RGNII, responsible
representatives of Roskosmos, NASA, Brazilian Space Agency, S.P. Korolev RSC
Energia, allied space enterprises and organizations, participating in the realization
of the ISS Project.
The progress of prelaunch processing and launch were observed by the deputies
of the State Duma of the Federal Assembly of RF, representatives of Russian clergy,
foreign space agencies, business circles of Russia and Kazakhstan, as well as
leading Russian, Brazilian and other foreign news agencies and TV companies.
The spacecraft and ISS Russian Segment flight is commanded by the Lead Operational
Control Team working in Moscow Mission Control Center (The Flight Director is
V.A. Soloviev, Vice-President of S.P.Korolev RSC Energia, Deputy General Designer,